Full day tour ex Queenstown featuring 2 historic Central Otago townships and the Kopuwai Conservation Area, a 20,000 ha stretch of land covering the Old Man and Old Woman Ranges, from 800m above sea level to 1,682m at the Obelisk/Kopuwai. With gold mining history, rare flora and fauna, distinctive schist rock tors and an exciting range of 4x4 tracks this tour is simply stunning.

The Kopuwai tour allows visitors to not only visit but to experience this remote and wild region first hand. A genuine New Zealand high country adventure away from mainstream tourism. Please see the videos to get a better understanding of the shear remoteness and beauty of this area.




From Queenstown we head west through the Kawarau Gorge  to historic Bannockburn. From Bannockburn we start climbing steeply to 1280m on the Duffers Saddle Road, providing commanding views over Lake Dunstan and Cromwell. This area has an average annual temperature close to zero degrees Celsius. As a result the ranges are dotted with distinctive schist rock tors and bisected by fields of freeze-thaw hummocks and mounds, creating a wave-like effect across the slopes and basins. The ground cover is dwarf, tundra-like vegetation of wind- blasted cushion plants. The low growing dracophyllum plant dominates these areas, along with several mountain daisies. The area is rich in Maori and European history. You can find native flora typical for the windy, mountainous region, and observe a variety of bird life. The Old Man Range is a sub-alpine island for lizards and invertebrates.



This video showcases some of the scenery and terrain that will be encountered on this Old Man / Old Woman Range tour.


We negotiate the old gold mining tracks and trails traversing the Old Woman and Old Man Ranges which run from north-west to south- east, creating a rain shadow that blocks and absorbs southerly fronts, making Central Otago New Zealand’s driest area. Attaining the height of 1740m we start travelling through the Kopuwai Conservation area, with stunning Central Otago vistas on our left, and the Nevis Valley and Hector Mountains on our right.


We come out via the Obelisk Rock at 1682m before dropping steeply into Central Otago. Heading back we stop at historic Clyde for a quick refreshment and a look at the 1860's gold mining era buildings, then onto the Clyde dam view point and back to Queenstown.




A rapuwai pakiwaitara or story, recalls a time when hunting parties from coastal settlements venturing into the interior often disappeared without trace. This was because of a giant called Kopuwai who lived near the Clutha/Mata-Au River and preyed on humans with a pack of ferocious two headed dogs. The pakiwaitara recalls when Kopuwai found a party from the Kaitangata area and killed all of them, except for a young woman called Kaiamio. He took her as his slave.


Fearsome as he was, Kopuwai had one weakness; warm, nor-west winds made him sleepy. He was aware of this and knew that when he nodded off, Kaiamio would attempt to escape. Whenever he felt drowsy, Kopuwai tied a taura/flax rope to her arm; if either of them moved, he’d know that she was still there. Despite that, Kaiamio was able to outwit him and escape. She undid the taura on her arm and tied it to a nearby rush, so that when the giant stirred, he felt the rope give and take, as if his slave was tethered to him.


When Kopuwai woke and saw that Kaiamo was gone, he was enraged. In searching for her, he picked up her scent in the wind along the Mata-Au. This was when Kopuwai lived up to the meaning of his name – waterswallower – as in trying to recapture her he swallowed so much of the river that its bed was dry for some time.


In the meantime Kaiamo had escaped to her home on the coast. Intent on seeking her revenge from Kopuwai, she returned with a party of warriors and they waited for a nor-west wind to put the giant to sleep. When the wind arrived, the warriors blocked the front of the giant’s cave with dry bracken and ferns and lit them. The smoke finally woke Kopuwai and he tried to escape through a portal in the cave’s roof. As he emerged, Kaiamo’s war party grabbed him and beat him to death.


Killing Kopuwai was possible because his ferocious, two-headed dogs were away hunting. When they returned and found their master gone they searched, but in vain. In time, the dogs also died and became transformed into what are now rocky outcrops on hilltops between the Old Man Range/Kopuwai and South Canterbury.


Text Information credit, DOC




  • Completely & utterly away from crowds
  • Full day ex Queenstown adventure
  • Commanding views over Central Otago
  • Visit Historic Clyde and Clyde dam
  • Explore the wild and remote Kopuwai Conservation area
  • Explore the rock tors on Duffers Saddle
  • Amazing views down to Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and the Pisa Range
  • A photographers dream!








ADULTS       2 Adults     3 Adults     4 Adults    Child PRICE          $495pp      $375pp      $299pp     $55

    • Minimum 2 adults
    • Child (16 and under)
    • Maximum 4 passengers



    •  8-10 hours ex Queenstown



    • Morning tea and lunch
    • Extremely comfortable 4x4 vehicle
    • Includes 15% NZ Goods & Services Tax


These prices are for private vehicle charter and guide. You will only be with your own group.



Alternatively, contact us below and pay direct

 on the day.






    • $895 single vehicle - private tour
    • $POA - 2 or more vehicles



    • 8-10 hours ex Queenstown



    • Hand held radio use
    • Morning tea
    • Includes 15% NZ Goods & Services Tax


We offer discounts off the standard price with the following.

    • Booking 2 or more vehicles
    • Family bookings
    • Multi day bookings




  • Vehicle insurance suitable for this tour.
  • All terrain tyres preferred with minimum 60% tread.
  • Hi/low ratio.
  • This tour is suitable for beginner levels of off-road driving experience. However, this tour operates on private sheep station farm tracks and DOC land. As per most backcountry routes this tour has narrow tracks, and tracks at height. Drivers need to be confident driving on back country roads.
  • A full list of vehicle requirements is on our booking form. Contact us for details.
  • Due to hazard identification over hand held radios, clients must be fluent in english.




3 steps for booking


  1. Email us at info@4wdexpeditions.nz
  2. We will send you a link to the booking forms. Please read, sign and return. We can collect these on tour day.
  3. Payment options
    1. Online link we will supply - visa, mastercard, eftpos
    2. Direct bank transfer
    3. On the day, visa, mastercard, eftpos or cash





Full day tours depart 7:45 am


Different pickup times can be arranged if necessary.  Pick-ups at local accommodation by prior arrangement. We can pickup in either Cromwell, Clyde or Alexandra.




These trips run from mid October to late April, depending on snow conditions and road conditions.


As our trips run on demand please contact us to discuss suitable dates.










From blue sky to no visibility in 20 seconds. This video shows what can happen to the weather up on the Old Man Range.


4WD Expeditions Limited

PO Box 1046

Queenstown 9348

New Zealand


From New Zealand

Email : info@4WDexpeditions.nz

Freephone : 0800 4WD FUN (493 386)

Cell : 021 244 3920


From Overseas / International

Email : info@4WDexpeditions.nz

Phone : + 64 21 244 3920

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